Short Stories

The Dream Inspector

«And now, the injection of methylpyrrolidinium and fluorosulfonylimide in the blood, is gonna produce the right amount of relaxation compounds, that will bring the brain to the desired relaxed state without losing its critical judgment ability.» said the man in the white robe.

A long white robotic hand moved mechanically to the back part of the patient’s brain interjecting a long needle right in the center of the cervical spine, pouring a green liquid.

«It will only take a few minutes before the subject reaches the required mental state to begin the experiments. A true medical miracle..» he whispered, nodding in admiration.

The doctor was standing beside the big intermittent glass that separated the observers from the subject through the one-way mirror. Within the hosting room, big laborious screens were spread all around displaying the logo «The Dream Inspector», with big fat white letters.

Around the table, two people of Asian descent were sitting dutifully listening to the doctor. Both dressed in strict formal clothes and with a reserved facial expression that was reminiscent of high class and fairly rich origin.

«Mr. and Mrs. Takahashi, what you are about to view is the mark of technological advancement beyond anyone’s imagination. I want to assure you that our company has done immersive work to bring this level of sophisticated technology in the hands of the people. And we are happy for you to be of the very first ones to experience the blessings of such radical innovation so early on» said the scientist holding a big notebook in front of his belly.

The couple nodded without speaking a word.

«What you are about to see, consists of 3 stages.» shouted the doctor with pride. «Each one of them designed to test the particular photosynthetic qualities of the subject, Mr. Jiro Takahashi, and his distinctive skills through the most geniune and credible tests ever devised by the human mind.» He took a pause as glanced downwards to the floor before raising his head again.

«The dream inspector has the ability to numb the brain, enough to get him into sleep mode but without losing any of the brain qualitities we want to test. The subject will have his usual full capacity to act and think as if he would be in a real situation. Only in this case, the scenarios he is gonna find himself in, are not random dreams. They are deeply and thoroughly thought and devised by us to test his patterns in a number of ways as you are about to find out.» 

He took another pause glancing downwards again. 

«Make no mistake my friends, at the end of this session you are gonna have a much better understanding and comprehension of your son that you had before you enter this room..»

«This is not an ordinary test for us Mr. Brown.» said the Asian man. «It is designated to evaluate the ability of Jiro, to handle one of the biggest corporations in Japan at the moment. Assessing his mental state is paramount before we move forward with such a move. As you can understand…»

«Of course..» said the doctor as he turned over to the screen.


The logo vanished from the center of it, revealing the landscape of what seemed to be a serene Japanese village. The little dark wooden houses would expand uniformly distributed along the area, with the orange autumn leaves to hug their little rooftops as if a playful touch of a naughty kid.

«And this is the setup of the first test.» said the doctor.

The camera started moving along the little pathway as if in the first viewpoint of a video game. 

«Compassion, generosity and self-sacrifice!» he yelled. «These are the values that our subject is tested for in this particular stage and as you can clearly see, we chose this beautiful little village to be the center stage of it all.» he took a sip from his water as all 3 of them kept watching at the screen attentively.

«Make no mistake here. The subject has full access to his capacities with the only difference that he doesn’t know he is inside a simulation. For him, this is the real-life scenario that he somehow found himself to be in. Whatever happens to him is gonna be perceived as if it happened in the real world and all his actions will be a manifestation of how he would respond under normal circumstances. Purely magnificent..» he whispered.

«But can he really sense things or feel anything at all? If this is a simulation of real-life then…»

«That is exactly correct Mrs. Takahashi. He still has all his emotional capacity that would be generated out of his perceptions in real life. But no matter what happens to him this is only an artifact of his mind. Once he wakes up it will amount to nothing more than thin air..» he said as they turned into the screen again.

Jiro kept moving along the road. It was mid-afternoon and the whole place seemed to be somewhat deserted with almost no people in sight. Only the random passing of a couple of old people as they peacefully walked across their way slowly and deliberately. At some point, Jiro reached the end of the road and stood over it, contemplating the path on his right.

«Buckle up people! the game is about to begin» said the doctor playfully.

Jiro took the turn and continued down the road. A long sequence of long trees with the intermittent small houses every now and then. Suddenly, a couple of minutes along the way, human voices made their way into the scene as if there was a rigorous battle between people. Jiro proceeded carefully to observe a group of 5 men harassing a young lady on the side of the street. She was dressed in a grey knee-long skirt and with her bag tight under her arm, she was walking vigorously to avoid the annoying group of men that were following her in her side. 

«The first test will give us insights about his compassion and his willingness to help others in difficult situations even when he doesn’t have to. As you will see all the situations have been devised with absolute realism, so much so as to engage the subject in them fully..»

Jiro approached eagerly the group from behind trying to close up the distance with them. The men were still marching by the side of the woman, laughing as they were teasing her in a hazardous way. The 5 men, dressed mostly in black leather jackets and filled with prison tattoos, seemed to be part of a gang that would spend most of its time in organized crime rather than anything else.

The man on the right of the woman had a deep scar on the left part of his face and he seemed to direct the rest of the group on their various movements. At some point, he nodded to the guy at the left and they both grabbed the woman pushing her on the side of the street. They threw her down on the floor as two of the guys held her arms, trying to restrict her movement.

Jiro started running immediately yelling them to stop. «Hey you! Leave her alone!» He shouted from the top of his lungs. «Stop or I call the police!» he said as he reached closer to them. Two of the guys raised up and moved towards him in a threatening way. 

«Well well, look what we have here..» said the man on the left. 

«It seems like a new fish in town…maybe he doesn’t know who runs this city over here…» responded the guy on the right.

«Maybe we should teach him a lesson to put the idea deep down into his head..»

«You leave the girl alone or I’m shouting the police right now» yelled Jiro once again.

One of the Chinese guys nodded to the rest of the group to let the girl leave and they all gathered around him as they pushed him down to the last part of the dead-end. 

«I don’t think you realize who you’re dealing here pal.» said the guy in the front as the girl started running away on the back.

«I think you made a serious mistake..»

The guys closed up on him slowly, grabbing him and beating him up with hands and foots coming and going all around continuously.

«Oh my god look what they are doing to my boy!» yelled the mother while looking at the screen. «They are ruthless beasts, they are gonna strain him out, please make this stop!» she shouted with cries on her face.

The heart monitor was spiking faster and faster and the subject in the opposite room seemed to be straining in a pour of sweat and utter agony.

«Mrs. Takahashi I assure you nothing bad is gonna happen to your son. This is just an algorithmic simulation that exists only in his mind.»

«It exists in his mind but he is still feeling all the pain» she responded.

«Nothing physically bad can happen to him, I guarantee it to you,» he asserted. «There is no actual pain or any other element that could cause any harm at all.» he said dismissing any room for counter-argument.

The father turned around and covered her hands in a soothing way. With a small node he calmed her down and tapped her on her arms.


Jiro opened his eyes to find himself into an empty room as he was chained over a chair alone. He tried to move his hands and feet but he was restricted and his clothes were filled with blood all around. From the door, 2 of the gang members entered the room with a smug smile on their faces.

«Well, look who has woken up. Mr. Jiro Takahashi» he said as he opened Jiro’s wallet in his hand. «The great women’s savior…» he said triggering a burst of laughter.

«He saved others but he couldn’t save himself apparently..» said the other one. «But I think this little rich boy can make it up for all the stress he caused.» he leaned over to his chair holding his two hands in the sides of it staring at him provocatively. «You see…I did some research over here. This little fella has access to the family’s bank account.» His breath slipped out through his whispers right in the face of Jiro. «Why don’t you give us the password little guy, and we can get it over with?» he grabbed his hair lifting his head up. «What do you say huh?» 

«Never» shouted Jiro

The Chinese guy glanced at his peer who nodded at him in affirmation.

«Very well then.. don’t say you didn’t have your chance..»

He raised his shirt slowly and methodically reaching well up to his elbows. With his left hand, he grabbed his chest stabilizing his body and started punching him in the face causing blood to pour out of his mouth.

«Give the password or you are dead meat» 

«..Never..» he blurred again managing to articulate the vowels.

The guys continued hitting him and torturing him till he passed out but he never gave up the requested information.

«A grand example of self-sacrifice for his values and well-being of others» said the doctor. «Truly remarkable..»

The woman had curled up under the father’s arm covering her eyes from watching the spectacle. «Please just make it stop..» she cried out.

«You have nothing more to worry about, Mrs. Takahashi. This test is over.» he said pompously. «You can be proud of him.» said the doctor.

The father rubbed her arm poking her to open her eyes and turned to the doctor. «How is he doing sir?»

The doctor peeked at the screens checking the data and grinned. «His heart rate has returned back to normal already and his brain chemicals are balanced and steady. As you can see we have everything under control, and don’t forget that he will not remember any of this once he wakes up..» he nodded with emphasis.

«Very well..» said the father as he glanced to the woman nodding that everything is ok. 

«And now we are entering stage 2. Justice, honesty, and integrity. The strongest values of any true leader..» he vowed in admiration.

«For our next stage, we have set up something very special. We are gonna travel a little bit back in time. Long way back! When he was actually a young little kid..»

The screens opened up to display a large wooden room with white clothed stripes spanning around hanging from the roof and banners writing «Kenzo Samurai School». The walls were decorated with paintings of old samurai masters whose faces were radiating a strong honorable harshness and various tiles with Japanese quotes. In the center of the front wall there stood a big glorious Samurai statue dressed in its full costume with metallic parts for its armor and a red suit covering the top. The facial mask would protrude a frightening and petrifying expression that would give the impression that he could penetrate your soul. The young boy started approaching towards it.

«As you can understand the moral compass of the boy is still driven by the forces he has now. The fact that he is at a younger age is rather irrelevant..» uttered the doctor.

Jiro approached the statue and started examining it. He touched the armor and the various elements vowing in admiration. At the center of its body, the statue was holding a sword with its two hands inclined downwards. Jiro glanced around him and took it on his hand sensing its beautiful straightforward blade. «Wow…» he uttered hypnotized. He started swinging the sword around with a deep, chilling vibration coming out of it as it passed around. With a sudden swirl of his body, he did a whole turnaround cutting through the air as his eyes opened wide up in sheer excitement. He checked the golden letters at the handle and touched them slowly before turning again on his left with a strong thrush, but his feet took a wrong stepping throwing him on his back, falling upon the statue with full force. The artifact dropped down with its various parts producing a loud noise as the metals conflicted with each other. Jiro startled with horror. Steps started approaching the room from the door so he let the sword down and run towards the back door hiding in the corridor. 

In the scene another young kid arrived and stumbled in the fallen statue. With his two hands, he covered his open mouth that was depicting his terror and started gathering the various parts from the ground. 

«Daito, his little brother..» said the doctor.

The whole statue was assembled by multiple little pieces that were glued to each other like the little pieces of a puzzle. Within a few more seconds two more figures approached the scene wearing full black kimonos with a rich white belt in the middle.

«What happened here?» yelled the first one. «What have you done, you careless, irresponsible kid.»

«Master Kenzo, I did nothing…I swear» uttered the kid nodding his head in denial. «I just found it like this»

«I’m tired of your lies and constant avoidance.» he raised his hand pointing at him with his finger. I think you could use a good lesson» he shouted as he grabbed a long wooden stick and started hitting him continuously. 

The doctor checked the heart rate that seemed to grow faster and faster again but didn’t reveal anything to the rest.

Suddenly Jiro came out from his hidden place and yelled back at the master. «Please stop! It wasn’t Daito. It was me…I threw the statue down. I’m sorry master..» Little Jiro dropped his sight downwards as the master stared stunt at him.


The scene changed abruptly to dark before the view of an infinite blue sea became apparent. Amidst the golden sand of the windswept beach, Jiro stood in front of a beautiful young woman as her black dark hair kept blowing on her side with vigorous prowess. She was dressed in a light blue dress that was waving in the wind’s rhythm and her eyes seemed glistening wet.

«Shinju..» said Jiro as he approached with angst. «I’m so happy to see you,» he said as he stood two feet away from her. 

The woman raised her hand to make him stop from approaching any further and moved her head sideways in disbelief. «Jiro…how could you?» she asked poignantly. «How could you leave me?»

«Shinju, I’m so sorry» uttered Jiro taking his eyes away from hers. 

«I loved you, and I thought you did too…but apparently that was a lie. You weren’t happy with what we had..»

«Never say that again» uttered Jiro tensely. «It ain’t true.»

Shinju: «You decided to leave what we had behind.»

Jiro: «You had to follow your studies to the university. You had to move to a different town.»

Shinju: «I could bypass it. I could stay here with you.»

Jiro: «And miss your chance to follow your dream. I would never forgive myself.»

Shinju: «You should have told me that this was the reason.»

Jiro: «You would have never accepted it. And you would have never feel fulfilled if you hadn’t tried.»

Shinju: «Jiro..»

Jiro: «I wanted you to be happy..truly..»


The screen turned black again as the doctor turned to face the couple. «And that signals the end of phase 2. We now move into the third and final test. Loyalty and commitment. This test was particularly requested to be devised with certain characteristics in it..»

The doctor glanced at the father who nodded at him in agreement.

The screen opened up to reveal the father sitting on a leather chair inside a dim-lit bar. The light would only fall on his face perpendicularly, illuminating only his right side while the other remained in complete darkness. 

The mother turned to look at the father not understanding what she was seeing but took no response from him.

In the screen, Jiro continued approaching with slow movements and nodded to the father greeting him.

«Jiro, have a sit. Please» he said pointing at the empty chair across him.

Jiro push the chair outwards and sat down leaning back on it.

«Jiro, I would like us to have a discussion.» the father said with a slow deep voice. «As you may know the time has come for me to leave my post from running the company. As with all things in life, the old needs to pass along so to give way to the new.» 

The father took a pause as Jiro remained unresponsive.

«So with that idea in mind» declared the father, «and wit the understanding that we need to fight and work for what is ours, I would like to know. What would you think about running the business yourself? Have in mind that it’s a position of huge responsibility and daily workload that would..»

«I would hate it.» uttered Jiro cutting the father’s sentence off.

«What did you say?» he asked.

«I would hate the heck out of it. I would hate waking up every morning entering the building, I would hate sitting in the chair and making phone calls, I would hate the meetings, the customers, and everything in relation to it.»

«How can you say something like that» asked the father stunt. «How can you think this way, you are my son» he yelled.

«I am the son that never had a proper play with his father because he was always busy. I’m the son of a father that never had enough time for his children. A father that was always at work and would put his job over his family. An absent father for a broken childhood…» 

The father kept staring at him with his mouth open.

«And this is where this endless cycle ends. It stops with me by denouncing this position and this humanless attitude towards life. I don’t want to live a life like that.» he leaned in towards him. «I don’t want my kids to live a life like mine..» he said as he raised from his chair looking down on him.

«Hope you can find the right person for the position. But that one won’t be me,» he said as he turned around and left.


The screen turned dark again and for a few moments, it seemed like there was complete silence in the room. The father glanced his eyes from the screen to the opposite room that Jiro was sitting hypnotized and stared at him.

«Mr. Takahashi, I’m so sorry about this. I want to assure you..»

«It’s fine,» said the father raising his hand to make him stop. «I guess we got what we asked for..» he said nodding downwards.

A couple of hours passed and the doctors made sure to rebalance the chemicals inside Jiro’s body and wake him up from his sleep. As was expected Jiro had no reminiscent of what had happened and the doctor actually made some questions to make sure of it. After a while, Jiro turned to the other room with his parents receiving them with a warm smile.

«So, how did it go?» asked Jiro.

«Ohh it was excellent» answered the mother as they walked back to the car. «You did amazing in all of them..» she said as she tapped him on the shoulder proudly…